On the court, rivalries don’t get bigger than Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange and John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas. Off of it, the two Hall of Famers were good friends, with incredible respect for one another.
John Thompson, who put Georgetown on the map as the program’s head coach from 1972-1999, passed away in late August. The 1984 national championship-winner was 78 years old.
“We lost a great basketball coach and a great person with the passing of my friend John Thompson,” Boeheim wrote in a statement after Thompson’s death. “He was a leader in the game and in life. John empowered all coaches but especially Black coaches and Black players. Syracuse and Georgetown was the toughest rivalry for about 10-15 years during the early BIG EAST days. There was nothing quite like it. Many of my fondest coaching memories are from Georgetown games, coaching against John – in the Dome, at Georgetown and at MSG.”
Today, Georgetown, led by Thompson’s former star center Patrick Ewing, is facing off against Boeheim and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Boeheim paid very clear tribute to his friend before the game, wearing a towel over his shoulder to imitate Big John’s signature look.
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 10, 2021
That’s a very nice touch by Boeheim. It’s no surprise given the high standing in which he held his former Big East rival.
Syracuse leads Georgetown 61-52 midway through the second half. Jim Boeheim’s son Buddy leads all scorers with 16 points, a fairly appropriate note given how these two programs have been so family oriented since the two legends took over decades ago.
Thompson’s son, John Thompson III, was head coach at his father’s beloved program from 2004-2017.